Saturday, 16 June 2012

From Barcelona to Tehran: Day 44

Day 44: Konya: a Cultural Hub Wasted; From Huyuk to Konya in Turkey

June 13, 2012; Distance covered today: 103 Km; Total: 3327 Km

These days, I am awake before dawn, before my alarm goes off. It was the same this morning. By the time I finished packing up, the mosquitoes had just started their day.

 I was on a beautiful but tough country road most of the morning. Every ten minutes or so, there was a passing car. I biked though villages to the main road where my beautiful morning gave way to a depressing one: head wind, uphill, terrible road condition.
As I was struggling my way up the hill, I saw a team of cyclists going fast to the opposite direction. A support van was following them. After two hours or so, I decided to take a break and eat something. I took shelter in the shade by the road, spread my tarp, and started to eat whatever edible I had: some German bread crumbs I had bought in Greece, some nuts, and cheese. I was thinking how lovely it would be if I had a little more of this bread and a little bit of juice when I saw the same cycling team passed  by me but their support van stopped. Two men got out and gave me coupe of energy bars, bottles of water, snacks, and some juice. How nice of them to stop by and say hi and of course give me something to eat. Only a cyclist knows what a cyclist goes through traveling by a loaded bike in that condition. 
The Support Team Who Gave me some Snack

If I want to choose the toughest route I have done on this trip so far, I would definitely say today’s. I climbed and climbed the worst road I have been on fighting head wind. Of course every uphill has a downhill, but the road was so bad that I could not go fast, and when there was a little bit of better road, there was the head wind to slow me down even in downhill. What was worse, there was no tree by the road to take a break in the shade of, so stopping would not cool me down, so I had to keep going until the sweat would go to one of my eyes. Then I would close that one and keep riding with one eye open, and finally, I had to stop to wipe off my sweat around my eyes and start again immediately to let the air dry me out a little bit. 

Just before Konya, there is a damn where I had ridden down a 1500 meter hill to get to. Little did I know that there was another climb to 1400 meter on a treeless, straight, tar and oil covered kind of road. The first scene you are faced with when you enter Konya from the west is hustling and bustling of a lot of pilgrims to get on the minibuses, park their cars, go across the street, get a taxi, getting off a taxi, vendors, etc. by a big mosque where an important Islamic figure was buried. I didn’t like that at all. 

On my map, there was a campground somewhere in the city. My GPS also had a name of a campground in the center of the city. With a little hope, I followed GPS direction to the campground where I saw nothing but a lot of small shops. I asked someone if there was a tourist information anywhere. They directed me to “Tourist Police”, whatever that means, where they directed me to the tourist office just round the corner. It was closed with a padlock on the door!! I went back to the police office to tell them not to send any poor tourists there anymore. I also asked them if there was a decent hotel they knew of. One of them, a middle-aged man, escorted me and my bike to a hotel nearby where I checked in for 40 TL. It was such a disappointment the hotel: no air conditioning, the Wifi was good for nothing, and breakfast too late for me. They said tea and drinking water was free, but when I asked for a bottle of water in my room, a refilled bottle of water came in. Anyways, it was the worst “hotel” I have ever been to: Hotel Cheshme.

I took a shower, washed my clothes, and got ready to go out. I then checked my email and I found out that a Couchsurfing friend who had declined to host me earlier because he had had another guest, had messaged me to say that he was willing to host me since his first guest did not show up. “Great”, I thought. Now that I have checked into a “hotel” I get this. 

I went out, didn’t dare to eat anything in the kind of restaurants I saw around, and bought some bread, cheese, olives, eyran, and fruit to have lunch before I go to Movlana’s shrine (one of the greatest Persian poets). 

The only place I found some solace was Movlana’a shrine. I sat there and listened to the mellow reed Ney (Sufi flute). I was wondering… If Movlana was Persian and his poems were in Persian, why do Turkish people so much revere him?
Movlana's Shrine (Not allowed to take a photo)

I am in the “hotel” now, getting ready to sleep with my earplugs in.


  1. Tough day, but that would make it a very good night because you'll get a deep sleep!

    As I just saw on Google maps, there's still a long way from Konya to the Iranian border. I hope the remaining roads will be greener if not easier to pedal.

  2. You knew there's be ups and downs. Great days ahead. You've made great progress Mansour - a life changing adventure. Dave

    1. Dave,
      I was rather upset to see Konya, as a city of Sufism, where great historic figures are buried, was in such a mess. The toughness of the road was part of the package--no pain, no gain.

  3. Hi mansour,
    this is a long time that we haven't heard any thing from you and there is no update a week. Pls let us know that you are doing good.
    Worried friends

    1. Afshin jan,
      I was in the wild for the last five days with no internet connection. Sorry to have worried you. All is well and I will update my blog tonight. Ciao.

  4. hi man why don't you update? majid